Biscayne Boulevard Is a Living Breathing Thing

Biscayne Boulevard is a living, breathing thing. I think we all know this, but no one brings this up. We only blabber about the traffic. The traffic. The traffic. Yep. The near death experience driving in Miami is every single day. Drivers are against you. There’s a whole plague of ’em. Deadly. Ready to cut you off, rip right passed you, or crash into you on most or all of our highways. However, “the boulevard” has always been our lighthouse, our beacon, safely bringing us home.

It’s cared for us day in and day out for most of our lives if we’re natives or long time residents. Even out of town visitors discover if you stay the course, Biscayne Boulevard will guide you to wherever your GPS isn’t. There’s an intimacy between your tires and the road. I know that sounds silly. I’m silly. But you can consider yourself in the hands of an old time friend or new found lover between these certain mile markers. And mind you, this isn’t a history lesson. I’ll leave that to the historians. No. This… this is a recollection. A celebration. It’s also a desperate plea to those who blindly tear down the boulevard without regard for our safety or reverence we should have as drivers for these cozy lanes.

Everyone’s been hooked on that “other boulevard” on that “other coast” over on the other side of the country. You know the one. There was a film named after it. A great film. It’s their boulevard which gets all the coverage. It’s a theme I will return to time and time again and again. The rest of the country only hear the jokes about us. They don’t see what we get to see. The shine of this drive. The way the rain pools around our street drains. How the night takes on this specific orange glow. It’s always felt like a great film on this road.

But unlike their famous boulevard, spend long enough distances riding either the North side of the road or the South side of the road, and you realize you’re traveling essentially back and forward through time and space. The way some pockets of places have remained the same for years. Or the glistening carcass of a new strip mall waves “Hello!” as the builders add flesh to its bones. And it’s not only one’s own memories riding passenger beside you, but every few stop lights slows you down just long enough to take in each and every different part of town.

My favorite section, believe it or not, is the road from about 79th St to about, I don’t know, a few blocks down from there. It’s where all the old hotels and building with their vintage weathered look are surrounded by these towering palms. The New Yorker. Sun Motel. The Vagabond. Sinbad Motel. Shalimar. Royal. Seven Seas. Sun N’ Surf. South Pacific. Leeward. Saturn. On a bright and blue, no cloud kind of day, you can feel like some idealized 50s movie star cruising to some fancy lunch about some fancy movie some fancy people wanna make.

Whether it be Little Haiti, North Miami, Aventura, I’m positive we all retain vivid feelings (if feelings can be vivid) of who we’ve driven with, what the weather was like on a certain drive, and how comforting those places we continue to pass by and frequent to this day feel. Steve’s Pizza. The Jockey Club. Quayside. Gulfstream Racetrack. The AMC 24. Tres Palmas. Denny’s. The bagel place on the left heading North before 125th. And then past 125th, the red brick building on the left. Flannigans. Don Bailey. That strip club on the right going South that’s been named and renamed so many damn times. Think it was a Pink Pussycat first, right? Weird thing is, after all this time, that place now feels safe. The hallowed, decayed grounds of the former immigration building. Oh, and when KB’s Christmas Tree tent goes up. There’s of course Downtown. There’s Bayside. And that corner Wendy’s and Taco Bell is on. Y’all know the one. Or are there two? Only tried and true boulevard drivers know THAT answer.

Now technically Biscayne Boulevard is US-1. I get that. But there’s something magical about this particular stretch of road that even heavy traffic can’t dispel. I mean, let’s be honest. When you take “Biscayne”, that really means you’re going no more South than Brickell, and no more North than Hallandale Beach Blvd. I opened this article stating Biscayne Blvd is a living, breathing thing, and I was not being hyperbolic. I’ve probably driven this road more than any other, and in my mind’s eye, there’s no difference to be made between a best friend I’ve known for ages and this road that’s seen me move throughout the many stages of my life

Things are growing pretty quickly now along the sides of this road. It’s exciting. It’s almost as if there’s something new popping up every single day. And then some of them go away just as fast as they came. Become memories faster now than they had when I was a kid. The recently constructed pedestrian crosswalks will now become a part of the next generation’s “fabric of travel.” And that’s okay. The sky will still be there. And so will those motels. You know as well as I do those motels are going nowhere because they’re right where they should be. There is a grand scheme of things. And that there’s celestial realty.

Well, that got unnecessarily esoteric and kind of full of itself. Change of direction. I now get to drive this road almost everyday, so maybe I’m over romanticizing this long slab of concrete as I enter my 40s and look back over my life. But even when I don’t have to, I still drive this road every chance I get. I’m drawn to it like mosquitoes are drawn to our ankles, around like what, six thirty, seven o’clock Eastern Standard time? That dusky buzz. Plus, I bypass 95 like a heart operation. It’s something I never wanna experience. But “The Boulevard”? Sign me up for that outpatient procedure! Gassed up. Spotified. Let’s go for a ride.

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Travis Roig

Travis Roig is a Miami Shores native, creator of old timey horror radio podcast “Terror on the Air,” a singer songwriter and most recently, the host of Roig Rage: A Podcast, a hilarious look into the struggles of a simple man trying to live in modern day Miami.